Lawyers for Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner on Wednesday filed an answer to the state Senate’s summons for him to appear at a Jan. 18 impeachment trial.
In the 22-page document, the lawyers said the articles of impeachment the state House filed are unconstitutional and that Krasner has not engaged in misbehavior while in office as the House alleged.
Furthermore, the lawyers wrote, Krasner was elected by Philadelphia voters twice to do exactly what he is doing, reforming the process of criminal justice in the city. They further claimed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, not the legislature, has jurisdiction over attorneys.
In November, the House voted 107-85 to impeach Krasner. The Select Committee recommended impeachment after hearing crime victims’ impassioned testimony about how Krasner did not convict the culprits and turned a cold shoulder to their grief and fear.
Krasner is a former defense lawyer whose progressive policies align with a group of other district attorneys whose campaigns were also funded by money from Democratic mega-donor George Soros. When the impeachment articles were introduced by Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia), Krasner claimed the action was “devastating to democracy and it shows how far toward fascism the Republican Party is creeping.”
But White, who pressed for impeachment for bringing crime victims to the capitol said, “Mr. Krasner has proven himself derelict in his duties as the district attorney of Philadelphia by inappropriately using prosecutorial discretion to act against the public’s interest.”
But Krasner’s lawyers said his office secured convictions in 87 percent of the more than 500 homicide cases held for trial since 2017. However, last year the city saw 562 homicides and had reached 502 as of Dec. 20 for this year.
“Because of decades of divestment, a deadly pandemic that devastated the economy and normal enforcement initiatives and prevention of crime, and an unprecedented rise in firearms purchases, Philadelphia experienced a spike in homicides in 2021 and 2022 –a trend mirrored across Pennsylvania (where many counties experienced higher rates of increase in homicide than Philadelphia) and across the entire country,” the lawyers wrote.
And further, they argued Krasner “has worked tirelessly to find modern solutions that increase public safety by building up impacted communities in Philadelphia in ways that prevent crime after decades of chronic violence based on the failure of traditional approaches.” And while members of the legislature might disagree “the citizens of Philadelphia elected him because they overwhelmingly agree with those ideas and policies.”
Krasner is “an elected official” who is “not subject to impeachment by the state legislature, the lawyers assert. Also, because the impeachment was not carried out in the legislative session where it began, it is “null and void.”
Krasner denies all the allegations against him. They are “unsupported by any evidence whatsoever; they ignore a plethora of research showing that policies like the district attorney’s do not lead to increases in violent crime and at least one recent, sweeping study shows such policies correlate with reduced violent crime” his lawyers said.
The attorneys claimed the decisions Krasner has made were an “exercise of his prosecutorial discretion” and not a legitimate reason to remove him.
Krasner also “denies each and every material allegation” and “denies he engaged in misbehavior in office in the nature of violating the rules of professional conduct or code of judicial conduct,” the lawyers wrote. “To the contrary, District Attorney Krasner and the District Attorney’s Office and its lawyers fulfilled all of their duties and obligations as lawyers.”
If the Senate were to convict Krasner, “he would be immediately removed from office,” said Erica Clayton Wright, communications director for Interim Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward.